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Summarize the content of the video and discuss the ideas. Sociologist David Harvey...

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gwan | eNoter

Posted July 23, 2013 at 1:52 AM via web

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Summarize the content of the video and discuss the ideas.

Sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to "look beyond capitalism, towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that could be responsible, just, and humane."

http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/06/28/rsa-animate-crisis-capitalism/

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Harvey offers a very interesting and in-depth analysis of the global economic challenges that have been seen in the last three to five years.  It is very hard to argue with his arguments. Particularly compelling is his breakdown of how people assign blame in this global economic crisis.  Was it a problem with people who were greedy?  Individuals who fell asleep at the switch?  Failure to regulate?  He does a stellar job in breaking down the particular causes that people have assigned to the current challenges.  He also puts forth a very interesting approach in suggesting that capitalism, itself, should be put under the microscope. Everything and everyone else is being scrutinized, so why not capitalism?  In a Marxist critique of capitalism, particularly in the contradictions of wealth accumulation, his analysis is quite interesting in terms of assessing how the system of capitalism's inherent contradiction helped to cause what the global economic slowdown.

His analysis ends up forcing a choice in the individual.  From the capitalist point of view, the current economic challenges are an example of the contractions and expansion cycle that enables capitalism to exist.  The capitalist simple sees this as a bear market to endure in order to get to the bull market.  This is no different than any other period of capitalism contraction in order to get to expansion.  

The other side raises question about whether this is something that we actively want to embrace.  Harvey's breakdown of the economic crisis forces the question of whether a condition in which people willingly embrace suffering as part of being in the world.  Harvey suggests that capitalism never really solves its crisis. It simply shifts it elsewhere. In quoting Marx, Harvey suggests that capitalism never concedes to a limit as it circumvents it, shifting it elsewhere until expansion happens again.  This raises the ethical question within capitalism that Harvey strikes in a direct manner.  In the shifting of contraction elsewhere, those in the position of economic power are gaining more wealth while more suffering becomes evident:

What happened was the leading hedge
fund owners got personal remunerations of
three billion dollars each in one year! Now I
thought it was obscene and insane a few years
ago when they got two hundred and fifty
million, but they're now hauling in three billion.
Now that's not a world I want to live in and if
you want to live in it be my guest.

Harvey's point is a valid one that right now, "Any sensible person right now would join an anti-capitalist organisation." Harvey's argument is rooted on viewing capitalism as more than an economic system, but rather a way of life.  In this light, one has to ask whether they morally wish to be a part of something that perpetrates so much suffering on individuals.  Obscene wealth at the cost of obscene poverty is something that Harvey feels is not a mere economic reality.  It is a moral choice and in this, one is compelled to make a decision.  In light of so much economic suffering in the globalized world, it is a compelling argument that Harvey puts forth.

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